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Union Forever, a chapter for retirees, eyes health care options

September 22, 2021

Local 888 retiree chapter Union Forever eyes health insurance options

Health insurance in the U.S. remains a Byzantine “system” that, despite the twists and turns of its rules, we all need to navigate. A workshop organized by Local 888’s new retiree chapter took on that topic from the standpoint of state and municipal workers and the options for their golden years.
The SEIU Local 888 Union Forever event presented an overview of the various scenarios — including what the Massachusetts GIC — Group Insurance Commission — has to offer. Also, the workshop looked over other health plans and how Medicare factors into the equation.
Local 888’s chapter for retirees lets members influence Local 888 policy and access a range of benefits, including dental insurance at a nominal cost. Rachel Idowu is the new Local 888 board member representing retirees. To reach her, email her at
For more info on retiree matters, see
Nancy McGovern, the legislative liaison for the Mass. Retirees Association, was the presenter for the Local 888 workshop. She has been involved in healthcare matters and, in particular, retiree health insurance, for a number of years.
McGovern, , also answered the Zoom audience’s questions. Previously, she worked for several years as senior program manager for the MassHire Greater Lowell Workforce Board.
For state retirees, the GIC is where the action is. Plans range from traditional health insurance, termed an indemnity plan, to HMOs (health maintenance organizations) of various stripes.
McGovern said that, in contrast, municipal retirees may end up with different options depending on what community they worked in. These may include GIC, self-insured and health insurers’ plans to a variety of other group plans.
Things get more complicated when a retiree becomes eligible for Medicare. For one, she said, “state law requires that a state or local retiree must enroll with Medicare at age 65 if they are eligible for Medicare Part A at no cost.”
She said that a 2011 state law changed how municipalities bargain with employees over health care. One plus: The law set minimum standards.
At this point, co-pays and deductibles can’t be higher than a benchmark plan. That’s currently Tufts Navigator, which is the GIC’s most used health plan.
She also noted that people of a certain age can get deluged by companies pitching their Medicare Advantage plans — especially leading up to open enrollment periods.
“We tell people to let the buyer beware,” and to look at the details, said McGovern. For example, various plans may restrict choice to charge lower amounts.
To see the video of the retiree chapter’s GIC event, go to
In addition, about 200 Local 888 members attended a recent workshop on Zoom, sponsored by the SEIU Union Forever chapter, called Social Security 101. For more information on the Union Forever’s recent Social Security workshop, see
For more on SEIU Local 888 events, see the calendar on For more information on the Local 888 Union Forever chapter, go to: